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Hill Climbers: Staffer Loves Working for Alaska

Jeremy Price may have moved 4,000 miles and 70 hours away from his native Alaska to come to Washington, D.C., but that doesn’t mean he has abandoned his roots in the Last Frontier State.

The 32-year-old has worked for two of the state’s three Members of Congress, starting as staff assistant for Rep. Don Young (R) and recently as legislative assistant for Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R).

“Washington is a lot different,” he said. “But I like that everyone is in tune with what’s going on in the world, and I love the history and mild winters.”

Price didn’t anticipate that he would be working in politics one day, but he did have an inkling that he would eventually move away from Alaska. He attended Utah State University, which had a similar vibe to his hometown: relaxed, small, plenty of snow and the option to take ski lessons for college credit.

During the summer of 2004, Price did a public relations and marketing internship for a clothing company in New York City. He intended to pursue a career in business. But during his stint on the East Coast, he visited a friend who was completing an internship in Washington, D.C., and that’s when he fell in love with Capitol Hill.

He took a tour of the Capitol during the day and visited some lit-up monuments at night. Perhaps what really sealed the deal was when he first set foot on the city’s public transportation system.

“I got on the Metro here and thought, ‘Wow, this is a lot cleaner than New York. This is awesome,’” he said.

After graduating in 2005 with a business degree, Price knew he needed some time to reevaluate his career path. He moved back to Alaska with his now-wife, Jessica, and worked for his father’s construction company.

Price began picking up the phone every day in an attempt to network with people he knew in D.C. He eventually heard through the grapevine that there was an opening in Young’s office, so he applied for the staff assistant position and was granted the job several months later.

The new staffer headed for the Capitol in October 2005. During his time in the office, where he stayed for more than five years, he donned hats as legislative assistant, senior legislative assistant and legislative director.

“I worked from the ground up,” he said. “Mr. Young is the kind of guy where if you work hard and prove yourself, you’ll have opportunities.”

In the November 2010 elections, Price watched the heated Senate race unfold in Alaska. He said he was rooting for Murkowski, a write-in bid on the ballot.

“But never did I think I would end up working for her,” he said with a laugh.

In February, Price learned there was an opening in the lawmaker’s office for a legislative assistant position to handle her work on the Senate Appropriations Committee. Price said he has always held an interest in appropriations because of the important role it plays in policymaking.

Although he was sad to leave Young’s office, Price was happy to take on new responsibilities in the Senate — appropriations, surface transportation, labor and pensions, and telecommunications.

The Senate has been a huge change for the staffer. Not only is it a longer commute for Price, who resides in Chesapeake Beach, Md., with his wife and newborn daughter Sienna, but it’s also a whole new ballpark for the legislative process.

“The House is more shoot-from-the-hip, and the Senate is a little bit more deliberative,” he said. “In some ways, the House is more fun.”

The legislative assistant is excited about the prospect of working on appropriations for his home state. Because Alaska only has one Congressman, he is already used to having an entire state as a constituency.

Price is also used to the traveling. When visiting the district, he had to travel hundreds, even thousands, of miles. Luckily he has noise-canceling Bose headphones to rely on for comfort.

But the most important part of Price’s job isn’t what he is doing, but whom he is working to help.

“I love working for Alaskans,” he said. “That’s always going to be home for me.”

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